Out of the Panj, into the Fire


July 20, 2013 by loscobos12

I am keenly aware that my MA in Medieval Studies leaves me with absolutely no qualifications to make comment on civil engineering projects of any kind. If however, by some quirk of fate, I was asked to author the 2014 Tajik roadbuilder’s bible, I would begin with three Golden Rules:

Life on The Edge

Life on The Edge

1. A road surface should be smooth and flat.


2. Avoid building your road in a location where boulders the size of cars are prone to fall on said road, and the road itself is in danger of sliding down a 300m precipice.


3. If rules 1+2 cannot be followed, provide a raging torrent at the bottom of the precipice to remove bodies and debris.

Summit Happening at 3252m

Summit Happening at 3252m

Fortunately, although the first two rules are broken on an almost permanent basis, the third generally remains intact. What Tajik roads lack in safety features however, they more than make up for with stunning views of mountains, glaciers and rivers. They also have excellent smuggling links with Afghanistan, making this a perfect destination for both adventure cyclists, and Opium traffickers.


Tajikistan (Left), Afghanistan (Right)

Afghanistan is just a stone’s throw away across the Panj river (literally, as I finally proved),and it is hard to beleive that less than 100km from where the locals shout and wave to us across the river there is current Taliban activity.

P1050388Tomorrow we head towards the Pamir plateau, and finally Osh in Kyrgzstan, where Andrew will return home at the beginning of August.


As a final note, we would like to extend our thanks to Etihad airways for allowing Josh to transport his Guide Falcon: “Etihad Airways accepts the carriage of falcons and guide dogs to lead the blind in the main aircraft cabin provided that all the necessary health documents and important licenses have been obtained.”


Andrew tries his hand at Rhythmic Gymnastics

One thought on “Out of the Panj, into the Fire

  1. ann chappell says:

    ooooh, will josh bring the falcon home?? I suppose we could keep it with the horses.

    great work men. great photos and commentry. i think you will all be able to write a guide book (safety manual) on your return.
    take care x

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